Marjory

∞∞∞ How he sits there. Elbows on the table, shirt half open, head over his plate, spoon in left hand. Ready to taste her culinary experiment. He moved his spoon to the plate and she looked at the bite he was about to take. Hours ago, she suddenly made a decision. Thinking about dinner, she’d wondered how many times she had done this. Considering what to eat, looking for recipes, shopping, standing in the kitchen with little Sophie scratching around her, sometimes chatting pleasantly, sometimes whining and complaining. Again she had felt that sharp pain, and with a shock she’d realized that too is over. Death really means never again. She got up from her chair and stared outside. All of a sudden she noticed the purple flowers in their garden. When they first moved in here she had looked up what it was, Monkshood. Poisonous native plant. Lethal with two to three grams of the leaves or one or two grams of the stem.

Up came a plan. The flowers look a bit like violets, she thought, and they are eatable. She googled and found “Violet Rice with Mushrooms”. It sounded culinary, she thought. It has been ages since they ate mushrooms. She hadn’t prepared them since Sophie ate along. Children usually dislike mushrooms. Now it was possible again. Feeling wry she had cut the flowers with her sharpest knife. At that moment she already could imagine how Maurice would look. And now he sat there in front of her, indeed looking longingly at his plate. The taste is really bitter, she thought as she swallowed her mouthful and checked to see if he liked it. ∞∞∞

I study at a Dutch Writers Academy. I want to discover if I am able to write fiction. A children’s book, or just a beautiful story. For my first writing assignment I had to choose a random photo of someone and answer all kinds of questions about him or her. Then, based on all those answers, I had to write a table scene for a thriller or a romantic story. That’s how this story started. About Marjory, her husband Maurice and their deceased daughter Sophie.

I had no intention of writing about someone whose daughter passed away and I was very surprised that it did. Is this so anchored in my system that it comes out unconsciously? Even in my fantasy, if I just make something up? I quickly went working on my next writing assignment, only to find out I had to work again with this character. So I’m stuck with Marjory and her little Sophie for a while. I feel resistance.

So I went for a bike ride. I felt angry and sad and couldn’t figure out why exactly. While cycling I thought about how sneaky this is. Apparently the death of a child resides so deeply inside of you that it really becomes part of you. Whether you like it or not. I hate the Freudian thing about it, the unconsciousness of it, and the fact that I can’t do what some people say: leaving it behind, get over it. It has caught up with me again, even in my fantasy and so I have no choice but to accept that too. It’s part of who I am. Perhaps for me a character whose child has died has become a very normal character, just like anyone else.

I’m curious how things will develop with Marjory.

First published in Dutch on August 27, 2020

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